THE death toll from a terror attack on an upscale hotel in Nairobi has risen to 15, according to police in the Kenyan capital.
Gunmen stormed the DusitD2 luxury hotel and office complex in the Westlands district of the East African city on Tuesday afternoon.
The "co-ordinated" attack began with a series of explosions at around 3pm local time (12pm GMT) before militants shot people at cafe tables and desks – with the Somalia-based Islamist group al-Shabaab claiming it is behind the atrocity.
We have set up additional tracing and psychosocial teams at Chiromo mortuary.
Those searching for their loved ones may either check at the Chiromo hostels along the road to Dusit D2 Hotel or Chiromo mortuary.
1199 or 0715820219 pic.twitter.com/ZU7ZNOnROJ
— Kenya Red Cross (@KenyaRedCross) 16 January 2019
Special forces were sent into the complex to flush out gunmen believed to be holed up inside and the Interior Ministry claimed the area had been secured on Tuesday night.
However, yet another explosion and more gunfire were later reportedly heard at the scene.
On Wednesday morning, the National Police Service said the area remained "under an active security operation" and ordered people to stay away "until it is declared safe".
We wish to caution all members of the public including politicians that Dusit Hotel and the area around 14 Riverside Drive is a Crime Scene that is under an active security operation.Until it is declared safe, everyone not actively involved in the operation should avoid the area.
— National Police Service-Kenya (@NPSOfficial_KE) 16 January 2019
The US State Department confirmed that an American woman was among the casualties, while a mortuary worker told Reuters that a British man had also died.
Their bodies were identified through ID documents found among their belongings.
Eleven of the other victims are believed to be Kenyan, while the nationalities of two others remain unclear.
This security footage shows several al-Shabaab fighters entering a luxury hotel and office complex in Nairobi.pic.twitter.com/1Ynvmy6Pyp
— Mukhtar M. Ibrahim (@mukhtaryare) 15 January 2019
The overall death toll stood at 15 as of Wednesday morning but is expected to rise.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta will address the nation about the ongoing security situation later today.
Local media have reported that the gunmen are on the seventh floor of the Grosvenor Hotel, with special forces slowly closing in on them.
Al-Shabaab terrorists previously carried out the 2013 Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi that left 67 people dead.
In a statement, a US State Department spokesperson said they could "confirm that a U.S. citizen was killed in the attack".
They added: "We condemn this senseless act of violence.
"The U.S. Embassy has actively offered assistance to local authorities."
A UK Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "The situation is ongoing. We are in contact with the Kenyan authorities who are coordinating a response and stand ready to assist as required."
The Irish Embassy in Nairobi also said security operations were still ongoing in the area.
It tweeted: "Ireland stands by Kenya at this very difficult time."
Security operations by the Kenyan authorities are still ongoing this morning at the Dusit Hotel and surrounding complex on Riverside Drive. Please avoid the area until further notice.
Ireland stands by Kenya at this very difficult time 🇮🇪 🇰🇪
— Embassy of Ireland (@IrlEmbKenya) 16 January 2019